BSIP DUCLOUX / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY BSIP DUCLOUX / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Artist's impression of the possible structure of the hepatitis C virus. By early 1995, this virus had still never been seen under a microscope. It is the cause of hepatitis C liver disease. At centre, a yellow circle contains RNA (ribonucleic acid) genetic material. Around the RNA is a symmetrical protein coat (capsid) coloured grey. The protein coat is enclosed in a phospholipid envelope (brown), studded with white protein molecules that help the virus attach to its target cell. Hepatitis C is spread largely by blood transfusions. It causes inflammation of the liver with jaundice and flu. There are screening tests for this virus, but no vaccine as yet.
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